Forestry Blog

Forestry Blog

USDA announces $350 million available to help states, private partners protect and restore grasslands, wetlands, and working lands

by WoodsRun Consulting Forestry on 12/16/15

WASHINGTON, Nov. 16, 2015 – Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the availability of $350 million to help landowners protect and restore key farmlands, grasslands and wetlands across the nation. The funding is provided through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), created by the 2014 Farm Bill to protect critical water resources and wildlife habitat, and encourage private owners to maintain land for farming and ranching. Through the voluntary sale of an easement, landowners limit future development to protect these key resources.

“The benefits of restoring, enhancing and protecting these working agricultural lands and critical wetlands cannot be overstated,” Vilsack said. “USDA is committed to preserving working agricultural lands to help protect the long-term viability of farming across the country as well as to restoring and protecting vital sensitive wetlands that provide important wildlife habitat and improve water quality.”

ACEP's agricultural land easements not only protect the long-term viability of the nation's food supply by preventing conversion of productive working lands to non-agricultural uses, they also support environmental quality, wildlife habitat, historic preservation and protection of open spaces. Native American Tribes, state and local governments and non- governmental organizations that have farmland or grassland protection programs are eligible to partner with NRCS to purchase conservation easements.

Wetland reserve easements allow landowners to successfully restore, enhance and protect habitat for wildlife on their lands, reduce damage from flooding, recharge groundwater and provide outdoor recreational and educational opportunities. Eligible landowners can choose to enroll in a permanent or 30-year easement. Tribal landowners also have the option of enrolling in 30-year contracts.

In north central Iowa, ACEP funds have been used to add nearly 400 acres to an existing contiguous 600 acre wetland complex protecting the recently restored public Big Wall Lake. Two land trusts in Colorado plan to use ACEP funds to enroll 1,805 acres to protect critical Sage Grouse habitat in Saguache County and in the Upper Colorado River Corridor Priority Landscape located in Grand County.

In FY 2014 and FY 2015, NRCS invested more than $600 million in ACEP funding to help landowners engage in voluntary conservation to provide long-term protection of an estimated 250,000 acres of farmland, grassland, and wetlands through more than 750 new easements.

To learn about ACEP and other technical and financial assistance available through NRCS conservation programs, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted or your local USDA Service Center. 

Connecting Forestry to People...

by WoodsRun Consulting Forestry on 11/04/15

The State and Private Forestry (S&PF) organization of the USDA Forest Service reaches across the boundaries of National Forests to States, Tribes, communities and non-industrial private landowners. S&PF is the federal leader in providing technical and financial assistance to landowners and resource managers to help sustain the Nation’s forests and protect communities and the environment from wildland fires.
State and Private Forestry programs bring forest management assistance and expertise to a diversity of landowners, including small woodlot, tribal, state, and federal, through cost-effective, non-regulatory partnerships. The staffs play a key role, along with others within the Forest Service and the Department of the Interior, in implementing the National Fire Plan to manage the impacts of wildland fires on communities and the environment.

Connecting Forestry to People...

The State and Private Forestry (S&PF) organization of the USDA Forest Service reaches across the boundaries of National Forests to States, Tribes, communities and non-industrial private landowners. S&PF is the federal leader in providing technical and financial assistance to landowners and resource managers to help sustain the Nation’s forests and protect communities and the environment from wildland fires.

State and Private Forestry programs bring forest management assistance and expertise to a diversity of landowners, including small woodlot, tribal, state, and federal, through cost-effective, non-regulatory partnerships. The staffs play a key role, along with others within the Forest Service and the Department of the Interior, in implementing the National Fire Plan to manage the impacts of wildland fires on communities and the environment. Read more at : http://www.fs.fed.us/spf/


Using LLC's in Estate Planning

by WoodsRun Consulting Forestry on 05/21/15


Limited Liability Companies ("LLCs") are a form of business entity that combines the pass-through taxation of a partnership or sole proprietorship with the limited liability of a corporation. The owners are referred to as members. Members are entitled to their share of distributions, but they have no control over company operations. The management of the organization is vested in one or more managers. Members may or may not be managers.
 
The initial owners are sometimes family members who wish to preserve a family farm or other assets. In other situations, the initial owners are a husband and wife who wish to shift assets to their children without losing control. Sometimes this is done through gifting shares. However, under current tax laws, it is sometimes better planning to leave membership interests as an inheritance.
 
When used for estate planning purposes, family LLCs usually take advantage of the separation of control from ownership and utilize a restrictive operating agreement. Those members who are managers control all business decisions, including the power to buy and sell LLC assets, without interference by other members. However, members who are not managers generally have no right to participate in management, may not withdraw unilaterally and receive cash for their membership interest, and are subject to restrictions on transfer of their membership interest.
 
Placing real estate in an LLC converts an interest in real property to personal property. This is particularly helpful when property is owned outside of North Carolina, because ownership does not change at your death. This prevents the need for an ancillary estate or even a deed.
 
An interest in a family LLC is also clearly identifiable as separate property in the event of a divorce. If all or a part of the membership interest is inherited rather than gifted, the membership can be owned by a trust for your beneficiary's benefit, giving extra protection. We can also use buyout provisions to ensure that if an interest in the LLC is considered marital, the other family members may buy that interest. 
 
The operating agreement may also provide for rights of refusal in an effort to keep family assets within the family. These are often used to protect family farms or vacation homes. The operating agreement may also address resolution of family disputes related to the assets. So the operating agreement can explain exactly how the members share a vacation home, and how they resolve disputes if unanticipated problems arise.
 
LLCs provide a streamlined mechanism for transfers of interest in family assets, which simplifies the estate planning and gifting process. For purposes of valuing a membership interest given to a family member, the value of the assets are sometimes discounted to reflect the fact that the donee has no control over business decisions and that his or her interest cannot easily be sold to a third party. A more restrictive operating agreement provides for higher discounts.
 
In North Carolina, a charging order is the only remedy a court can use to seize assets from an LLC.  This means that any distributions otherwise payable to the debtor/member must instead be paid to the creditor. However, a Court cannot order a distribution of assets. It is usually best for LLCs to have more than one member if possible, because a multi-member LLC provides stronger asset protection than a single member LLC. 
 
Family LLCs are an effective estate planning tool in certain situations. However, the key to their effectiveness is making sure the operating agreement addresses your needs.

Tenancy by the Entireties
Tenancy by the entireties is a simple way to protect real estate from creditors and avoid probate upon the death of the first spouse. Tenancy by the entireties and liability insurance should be the first line of creditor protection.
 
In North Carolina, any conveyance to a husband and wife while they are married will constitute a tenancy by the entireties in the property unless the conveyance specifically states that some other type of ownership is intended. We often see couples who purchased property together prior to their marriage, and do not re-convey the property after they are married. In this case, they own their land as tenants in common and none of the protections discussed below apply. A simple deed from husband and wife to husband and wife will establish a tenancy by the entireties.
 
One of the most important benefits of tenancy by the entireties is that it grants special creditor protection over that real property. With the exception of federal tax liens, property owned as tenants by the entireties is subject only to the joint creditors of the couple and not the sole creditors of only one spouse. It is important to note that this applies only to real property.
 
In the past, this creditor protection was one reason that some couples elected not to convey real estate to their revocable trusts. However, beginning in 2015, North Carolina law provides that any real property held by a husband and wife as a tenancy by the entireties and conveyed to their revocable or irrevocable trusts still has the same immunity from the claims of their separate creditors as if they had continued to hold the property as a tenants by the entireties. This continues as long as the spouses remain married, the property continues to be held in the trusts, and the spouses remain the beneficial owners of the real estate.  
 
It is important to remember that upon divorce, the tenancy by the entireties is immediately severed and the property is held by the former spouses as tenants in common. Therefore, judgments of one spouse can attach to that spouse's ½ undivided interest immediately upon entry of the divorce decree. We once collected on a judgment after several years when the debtor divorced. When he and his wife sold their vacation home after their divorce, the judgment had to be paid in order to clear title.
 
When one spouse dies, his or her property interest is extinguished and title to the property immediately vests solely in the surviving spouse. This allows real estate to pass to the surviving spouse without being subject to the creditors of the deceased spouse. On the other hand, the judgment creditors of the surviving spouse attach to the property immediately upon death of the first spouse. Tenancy by the entireties is an important tool when a spouse dies without a will.
 
In a recent case, our client wished to sell her house after her husband's death. The property had belonged to her husband prior to their marriage. They later conveyed the property to themselves as husband and wife. Unfortunately the deed was executed and recorded prior to their marriage. Therefore, they owned the property as tenants in common. The husband died without a will. At his death, his wife continued to own her one-half interest, as well as one-third of his interest. However, their four children inherited two-thirds of his one-half interest. The one child who was over the age of 18 was able to deed her interest to her mother. However, three of the four children were minors. In order to sell the property, the wife had to become guardian of the estate for her three minor children and petition the court for approval to sell the property. This could have been avoided if the deed had been recorded after their marriage.  


For more information that may assist you, follow me on twitter @jpagelaw, like my Facebook page, or search my website, www.jpagelaw.com

Sincerely,
Jason Page

AFTER THE LINES ARE DRAWN: THE IMPORTANCE OF PROTECTED AREAS GOVERNANCE

by WoodsRun Consulting Forestry on 12/16/14

It’s tempting to think that once we declare a protected area protected, all the species, ecosystem services, and ecosystem functioning within the area will be conserved in perpetuity. Unfortunately, this is not the case. We cannot simply establish protected areas, draw lines on a map, and leave these areas alone. These areas, and the biodiversity within, are still subject to internal and external threats – threats like climate change, invasive species (like these flowers in Blue Mountains National Park), and poaching, to name a few. In order to ensure that protected areas will continue to function and conserve species well into the future, we need to also ensure that these areas are effectively managed. For this reason, one of the streams…

http://environment.yale.edu/blog/

Types Of Forests

by WoodsRun Consulting Forestry on 11/13/14

TYPES OF FORESTS

Tropical Rainforest

Location: The tropical rainforests contain the greatest diversity of species of all biomes on earth. They are found around the equator, between 23.5 degrees N latitude and 23.5 degrees S latitude.

 

Climate: Temperatures in tropical rainforests remain between 68 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit all year long. Winter is absent in these forests. Most tropical rainforests receive 100 inches of rain per year.

 

Soil: Because the temperature is warm and the air moist, decomposition happens at a very fast rate in tropical rainforests. High levels of rainfall often lead to leaching of nutrients from the soil, creating soils that are nutrient poor.

 

Plants: Trees in the tropical rainforests grow between 82 and 115 feet tall and are typically broad-leafed trees. Other plants include ferns, vines, mosses, palms and orchids.

 

Animals: Dense growing trees create a thick canopy layer in tropical rainforests that keep the sun from penetrating to the lower layers of the forest. This means that most animals that live here must be adapted to living in the trees. A variety of birds, bats, monkeys, snakes and other animals can be found in tropical rainforests.

 

Threats: The biggest threat to tropical rainforests is unsustainable forestry practices. Other threats include road construction, clearing land for agriculture and other development activities and climate change.

 

 

 

Temperate Deciduous Forest

Location: Eastern United States and Canada, Western Europe and parts of Russia, China and Japan.

 

Climate: There are four distinct seasons in temperate deciduous forests and precipitation falls throughout the year, as rain in the spring, summer and fall and snow in the winter. Temperate deciduous forests receive 30-60 inches of rain per year.

 

Soil: The soil in these forests is very fertile.

 

Plants: The forest floor in temperate deciduous forests supports mosses, ferns and wildflowers and the understory supports a variety of shrubs and ferns. Maple, oak and birch trees are some examples of the deciduous trees that dominate these forests. There are also small numbers of evergreen trees such as pines and fir.

 

Animals: Animals living in temperate deciduous forests must be adapted to cold winters. Common species found in temperate deciduous forests include, red fox, hawks, woodpecker and cardinals.

 

Threats: Acid rain caused by industrial and vehicular emissions poses the biggest threat to temperate deciduous forests. Over time, acid rain damages tree leaves, causes trees to produce fewer and smaller seeds and reduces resistance to disease. Other threats include unsustainable forestry, strip mining and the spread of invasive, non-native species that compete for space and food. Climate change is also a threat.

 

 

 

Temperate Coniferous Forest

Location: Temperate coniferous forests are typically found in coastal areas with mild winters and heavy rainfall or in in-land mountainous areas with mild climates. Examples of where these forests are found are Pacific Northwestern United States and Canada, southwestern South America, Southern Japan, New Zealand and small parts of northwestern Europe (Ireland, Scotland, Iceland and Norway).

 

Climate: Temperate climate with temperature that fluctuates little throughout the year. High levels of precipitation (50-200 inches per year) cause a moist climate and a long growing season.

 

Soil: Soils are generally rich with a thick layer of decaying material.

 

Plants: Evergreen conifers dominate these forests. Due to the high levels of precipitation and moderate temperatures, there is a long growing season, resulting in trees that grow very tall. Dominant tree species found in temperate coniferous forests include cedar, cypress, Douglas fir, pine, spruce and redwood. There are some deciduous trees such as maple, and mosses and ferns are common.

 

Animals: Examples of animals that live in temperate coniferous forests are, deer, marmot, elk, black bear, salmon, spotted owl, marbled murrelet

 

Threats: Unsustainable forestry, road construction and other development related activities are the biggest threat to temperate deciduous forests.

 

 

 

Boreal (taiga) Forest

Location: This is the northern most forest type and is found between 50 and 60 degrees N latitude. Boreal forests are found in Canada, northern Asia, Siberia and Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland). About two-thirds of the world's boreal forests are found in Scandinavia.

 

Climate: Boreal forests are characterized by long winters and short summers. Most precipitation is in the form of snow and these forests receive between 15 and 40 inches of precipitation per year.

 

Soil: Because of cold temperatures, decomposition takes a long time, resulting in thin soil.

 

Plants: Trees are mostly evergreen and include species such as spruce, fir and pine. The understory is limited because the canopy is so dense.

 

Animals: Animals found here must be adapted to long, cold winters and usually have thick fur. Deer, moose, elk, caribou, snowshoe hare, wolves, grizzly bears, lynxes and wolverines are some examples.

Read more: http://www.defenders.org/forest/types-forests

WoodsRun Consulting Forestry, PA
Greg Conner, RF, CF, ACF
(910) 876-2459
Bill Holmes, RF, ACF
​(910) 622-7790

Email   Facebook  LinkedIn
Sign InView Entries

Contact Us